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A single lamb shank sits on a white plate with a floral border next to a big pile of yellow rice and a small side salad.
Lamb shank at Ashur
Korsha Wilson/Eater

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Take an East African Food Crawl Through Roxbury

Get the goat, and get the injera, too

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Welcome back to Food Crawls, a series in which Eater Boston staffers guide you on food and booze crawls in the Boston area. When we go out, we often want to try more than one restaurant or bar at a time — a drink and a snack here, another drink and dessert there. Eater Boston crawls are meant to be relatively walkable, and the amount of food and drink is meant to correspond roughly to a couple of average appetites — so bring a friend. Email us if there’s a particular theme, dish, drink, or neighborhood you’d like to see covered in a future installment.

Last week was about West African food in Roxbury and the South End; this week is about East African food in Roxbury, specifically the cuisines of Ethiopia and Somalia. Start by heading to Ashur near Roxbury Crossing, and then head toward Dudley for stops at Fasika and Deria Express Cafe.

Stats for this food crawl:

  • Total stops: 3
  • Pounds of delicious flatbread consumed: So many
  • Goat dishes consumed: At least one

Lamb Shank With Rice at Ashur

291 Roxbury St., Roxbury, MA 02119

An oval plate piled high with salad, rice, and a bone-in lamb shank.
Ashur’s beloved lamb shank
Korsha Wilson/Eater Boston

There are no printed menus at Ashur, just a dry-erase board listing the daily menu. The restaurant is owned by Abdullah Ashur, and his brother, Ali, runs the show in the dining room. The Ashurs — who moved to Boston from Somalia — opened the restaurant in 2007, and it’s been a Roxbury staple ever since. Ali told Eater in 2016 that while at Ashur, “It really feels like you’re in a city in Somalia sometimes.” The play at Ashur is the braised lamb or the lamb shank. Follow it with a Somali chai.

Kikk Alicha and Quanta Firfir at Fasika Cafe

51 Roxbury St., Boston, MA 02119

An Ethiopian spread at Fasika
An Ethiopian spread at Fasika’s Somerville location
Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant (from the business owner)/Yelp

Start by indulging those vegetarian impulses — the kikk alicha is made with split yellow peas cooked in garlic and turmeric — and finish with the quanta firfir, which is a stew-like dish made with beef jerky and small pieces of injera (Ethiopia’s renowned flatbread) cooked in a “special sauce.” Finish with a coffee — you’re unlikely to get better coffee anywhere. (Coffee is quite literally a ceremony in Ethiopia.) And next time you’re in Somerville, check out Fasika Restaurant, which has a more expansive menu. The play there is the doro key wot, which is comprised of chicken, hard-boiled eggs, and the fiery spice blend berbere.

Goat With Rice (or Chicken With Rice) and Anjero at Deria Express Cafe

1127 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA 02119

deria express cafe
Chicken with rice
Dmitry L./Yelp

Similar in name and constitution to the Ethiopian injera, anjero is a sourdough pancake-like flatbread traditional in Somali cooking. Like at Ashur, you won’t find menus at this hole-in-the-wall in Dudley Square. Get the goat with rice, and if you’re eating with a friend, get the chicken with rice, too. Scoop it all up with hunks of anjero, and live deliciously.

Fasika Cafe

51 Roxbury Street, , MA 02119 (617) 238-7979 Visit Website

Ashur Restaurant

291 Roxbury Street, , MA 02119 (617) 427-0599 Visit Website